As published in The Witness by Edward West on 11 October 2018.

IF a worker hasn’t learned to do their work, the instructor hasn’t taught — it’s not the worker’s fault. This was according to Professor of Lean Enterprise John Bicheno, who was the keynote speaker at annual KZN Lean Conference 2018, hosted by the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business. Lean production is an approach to management and work process that focuses on cutting out waste, whilst ensuring quality. It can be applied to all aspects of a business — from design, through production to distribution. Bicheno focused his address on Training Within Industry (TWI), a basic training methodology introduced to resolve a skills shortage in the U.S. by the U.S. government during World War 2. He said TWI could be used by the private sector in South Africa, as a way to effectively train workers in a lean organisation. It could be a way to address skills shortages and weak education outcomes in a labour force, he said. During World War 2, the U.S. department had realised it would take years to improve the education system to resolve the skills shortage, so they employed their best minds to devise TWI. After the war, TWI was adopted by industry in Japan and continues to form the basis of Toyota’s production training systems. Many of Toyota’s staff still carry the small TWI instructions booklets in their pockets at work, said Bicheno. And many millions of workers have been trained using TWI, he said. It broadly provides the generic skills required, presented in an easy systemised way, to train people to do their jobs effectively. It involves two hours of on-site training five days a week, and the maximum number of employees receiving the training can never be more than seven. There are four basic skills taught in TWI, Job Instruction, Job Methods, Job Relations and Job Safety. The most effective person to implement the TWI programme is the front line manager, he said. TWI is also currently enjoying a renaissance among many organisations, said Bicheno. It is also proving effective by being applied in combination with Kata Processes Improvement, which is a Japanese invented way to make a business more productive through thinking. Bicheno gave a TWI JM demonstration at the event of how to training a person working in a hospital, to properly apply gel and wash their hands. This involved four steps of: preparing the worker, presenting the operation, trying it out and following up. The process involved much repetition of the various steps, which is essential in the process, said Bicheno. Peter Temba, leader: Lean Manufacturing Centre, BMW, who also presented at the two-day conference in Hilton, said they train their trainees at the group’s plant in Rosslyn, Pretoria, using TWI.

Photo Credit: Eric Cornhill Photography